How To Buy A Paddle Board: Everything You Need To Know

Everything you need to know before purchasing your first stand up paddle board.


sup boards for the entire family with displacement hulls

Paddle boarding is a lot of fun and can be a great workout but no matter how much research you do on them, it's difficult to find information that is written in an easy-to-understand way. We will try to break down the different types of stand up paddle boards, what they're used for, and what you should know before buying one.

What's the Difference Between a Stand Up Paddle Board and a Surfboard?

riding waves on stand up paddle boards that track nice

One of the main differences between paddle boards and surfboards is the size. Paddle boards are generally much larger than surfboards, which makes them more stable and easier to balance on. Another difference is that paddle boards can fit more than one person on them or the paddler might want to paddle their SUP with their dog on board.

Ferrying a small child or a pet would be quite a feat on a regular surfboard. The good news is that you can can catch waves on both types of boards but a surf board won't do much for you on flat water.

Origins of Paddle Boarding

inflatable sup with planing hull

Modern paddle boarding owe its roots to the Beach Boys who taught surfing on Waikiki Beach back in the 1940's and 1950's when they would use longer boards and a canoe paddle to keep up with their surf students as well as photograph them.

The paddle board phenomena of late was spawned by Hawaiian big wave surfers Dave Kalama and Laird Hamilton in the late 1990's and early 2000's, who saw it as a way to stay in shape when the surf was flat. Since then, it's become a fun activity for the entire family.

Types of Paddle Boards

sup yoga with beginner paddlers

Paddle boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different paddling styles. Here is a breakdown of the most popular types of paddle boards:

All-Around: All-around paddle boards are the most versatile SUP boards and can be used for a variety of activities, including flatwater paddling, surfing, yoga, and fishing. They are typically wider and thicker than other types of paddle boards, making them stable and easy to balance on.

Touring: Touring paddle boards are a longer board designed to improve efficiency when paddling so that the SUP board can cover longer distances at faster speeds and track straighter than other types of stand up paddle boards. The excess board thickness of a touring paddle board allows the displacement hull to rise above the water so that the hull slices through the water easily. The displacement hull requires the paddler to expend less effort than they would with a planing hull which skims along the top of the water. If you are interested in long distance paddling, the is the right board for you.

Surfing SUPs: Surf stand up paddle boards are designed specifically to catch waves. They are usually shorter and narrower than all-around boards and have planing hulls which make them more maneuverable in the water. Surf paddle boards often have a concave deck, which helps keep your feet locked in place when paddling through waves.

SUP Yoga: Yoga paddle boards are similar to all-around paddle boards but are often wider to give them a more stable feel. They usually have a smooth deck pad to provide comfort during yoga poses, and some even come with attachment points for bungees to store yoga accessories such as blocks or towels. SUP yoga tends to appeal to paddlers of all skill levels.

Fishing Paddle Boards: Fishing SUP boards are ideal for anglers who want to fish from a stable platform. These boards typically have ample storage space for tackle boxes and coolers, as well as features like rod holders and anchor systems. th

Race: Race SUP boards have performance characteristics that are similar to touring SUP boards but tend to be narrower and lighter boards that give the paddler extra glide when compared to a touring paddle board. They are typically hard paddle boards that will feel unstable to anyone other than advanced paddlers. Most races cover fairly long distances so lighter materials like carbon fiber are typically used in a race paddle board.

River: River Paddle Boards are usually a shorter board which is fairly wide as longer boards are difficult to maneuver in the confines of the river. River boards tend to have planing hulls to keep them from nose diving. Usually a shorter fin is added to the fin base because the smaller fin is less likely to get snagged on rocks. A SUP paddle with an ABS plastic blade is also recommended. River paddling is extremely challenging and can be dangerous so you will want to invest in lessons and proper safety gear before attempting this pursuit.

Rigid versus Inflatable Paddle Boards

solid board and carbon fiber sup paddle that angles forward

When the sport first gained popularity, early adopters all paddled hard boards with a foam core. These hard SUPs were prized for their smooth ride and high board volume. The main downsides to these SUPs was storage and transportation. There was just no way to store them in small spaces and you needed a fairly large vehicle if you wanted to take them on a road trip.

The inflatable paddle board was soon introduced and seemed to alleviate these shortcomings. An inflatable board can be easily transported in its storage bag in the trunk of a car. The downside of the first version of the inflatable paddle board was that they typically used a single layer of PVC over a knitted drop stitch core which meant that these inflatable paddle boards tended to be bouncy or would "taco" - meaning that the nose and tail would rise above the water. These issues were never a problem on a hard paddle board. It should be noted that many cheaper inflatable SUPs still employ this legacy technology.

As inflatable SUP technology improved and multiple layers of PVC were fused together over a woven drop stitch core, well built inflatable SUPs became 90 percent as rigid as a solid board. Less bounciness meant more stability and better performance. Now apartment dwellers could store and inflatable SUP easily no matter what the board length was.

Paddle Board Buying Guide (Parts, Purpose, etc)

displacement hull for inflatable sups

A paddle board can be a great addition to your water sports arsenal, but before you purchase one, it is important to know what you are looking for. This guide will help you understand the different parts of a paddle board and their purpose, as well as what to look for when buying a paddle board.

Parts of a Paddle Board

weight capacity of a stand up paddle board

The deck is the flat surface of the paddle board where you stand. It is usually covered with a foam deck pad or another type of material that provides traction.

The rails are the sides of the paddleboard. They provide stability and help you keep your balance while paddling.

The nose is the front end of the paddle board and the tail is the back end. The nose can be pointed to help with cutting through water, while the tail provides stability.

The fin is a removable piece located at the bottom of the board near the tail. It helps with tracking (keeping the board going straight) and can also provide additional stability. Some boards have more than one fin for added performance.

Purpose of a Paddle Board

stand up paddle board with a pointed nose

Paddle boarding is a great workout, whether you are racing or just cruising around. It is also a great way to enjoy time on the water with friends or family. Many people use their boards for fishing or yoga, as well as exploration and sightseeing. Whatever your reason for wanting a paddle board, make sure to choose one that fits your needs and abilities.

Where To Buy SUPs

stand up paddle board volume

If you're looking for a great deal on a paddle board, there are a few places you can check out. One option is to look for used paddle boards. You can often find good deals on used boards from people who are upgrading to a newer model or who no longer have use for their old board.

Another option is to check out online retailers. There are many online retailers that sell SUPs at discounted prices. Be sure to compare prices and shipping costs before making your purchase to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.

Finally, don't forget about your local paddle board dealer. Many stores offer discounts on paddle boards during the off-season or when they're clearance items. If you time your purchase right, you can snag a great deal on a brand new paddle board.

Safety Tips

stand up paddle board for all skill levels

When you are paddle boarding, you are at the mercy of the elements. The sun can beat down on you, the waves can crash over you, and the wind can whip around you. That is why it is so important to be prepared before you head out onto the water. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you are paddle boarding:

Wear sunscreen: You will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time when you are paddle boarding. Make sure to put sunscreen on all exposed skin to prevent sunburn.

Wear a lifejacket: If you are not a strong swimmer or if conditions are rough, wear a lifejacket to stay safe.

Be aware of your surroundings: Always be aware of what is going on around you. Keep an eye out for other boats and obstacles in the water.

Follow the rules: There may be rules in place at the body of water where you are paddle boarding. Follow them so that everyone can enjoy the experience safely.

Have fun: Remember to relax and have fun when you are paddle boarding. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

Paddle boarding is a great way to enjoy the water. It is important to be safe when you are paddle boarding so that you can have a great time. Follow these safety tips and you will be sure to stay safe on your next paddle boarding adventure.


stand up paddle board length

Now that you know how to buy a stand up paddle board, the only thing left to do is get out there and enjoy yourself! Paddle boarding is a great way to exercise, relax, and enjoy the outdoors all at the same time. With so many different types of paddle boards on the market, there's sure to be one that's perfect for you. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start paddling!